29/09/20 • Animation Insights

5 of the best ‘art of’ books that money can buy

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An innocent question can sometimes lead to a lively discussion, and that’s just what happened when one of our line producers asked crew for opinions on the best ‘art of’ books that money can buy!

Here’s a selection of some of their faves.

Song of the Sea Artbook

by Tomm Moore and various authors

Cartoon Saloon have produced some of the finest 2D animations of the 21st century, so its no wonder that the studio’s art books are quite so beautiful. Featuring images from the Oscar nominated Song of the Sea, this particular artbook captures the essence and emotion of the film, while also exploring many of the finer details of production. Readers are taken on a journey which encompasses graphic design, the use of lighting and colour, composition, character design, all wrapped up in the stunning, Irish-art inspired visuals which Cartoon Saloon has become so famous for.

Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

by Daniel Chabon, Steve Seeley and Tim Seeley

“He-Man and Sheera were both brilliant shows in the 80s and they are still amazing today. So [this book is] a great example of building an imaginative concept and maintaining it over 35 years.. and they had some amazing artists involved in the development, including Moebius and William Stout.” – Jonathan Clarke, Animation Producer

We all know somebody who would enjoy this book and its glorious immersion into childhood TV memories. First hitting screens in the early 80s, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe went on to spawn an entire franchise. This book documents its evolution, combining rich imagery with written prose to create a perfectly nostalgic trip down memory lane. There is much more to this book than just its evocation of memories, however, and its through-the-keyhole perspective of the emergence of a cultural sensation is likely to draw in even the most cynical of readers.

Studio Ghibli Layout Designs – Understanding the Secrets of Takahata-Miyazaki Animation

by Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki

Fans of Studio Ghibli were no doubt excited this week when the studio released 400 high resolution movie stills, making them available to download for free. Images come from some of the studio’s most iconic works, including the Academy Award winning Spirited Away, the only caveat being that they must be used with ‘common sense’.

For those that wish to see how it all began, this book offers a unique perspective into the process of animation. First published in 2008, the studio has been faithfully updating the book with layout designs from each of its feature films released since then. The result? A veritable tome of hand-drawn excellence, which is exactly why it tops our animator, Marc Hendry’s list!

The Art of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

by Tracy Miller-Zarneke

“The Art Of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is full of great cartoony art! I love the funny early designs of Steve The Monkey.” – John Atkinson, Animator

Before becoming a major motion picture, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a much-loved children’s book. Its reimagining for the 21st century entailed much conceptual development, character work and location design, all of which is detailed in over 180 pages of eye-catching artwork. While you could maybe rent this book from your local library, those purchasing it will be delighted with the play on senses this book delivers with its scented stickers, not to mention the huge fold-out chalkboard and map of the town which comes with it. True deliciousness!

The Art of Disney – Bambi

by Pierre Lambert

Another of Marc Hendry’s favourites, this beautifully put-together book features over 200 preliminary studies, storyboards, layouts, animation drawings and background paintings. Although the text in this book is French, the real focus is the artwork, which captures all the elegance and grace of this classic movie. A must-buy for Disney fans!


So there we have it, 5 of the best ‘Art of’ books that money can buy. We hope you’ve enjoyed this Spotlight post – stay tooned for more updates!

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